A Deep Dive Into Dirty Talk: 9 Tips To Do It With Confidence Even if You’re Shy or Feel Awkward About It

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F**k me like someone who closes deals. That is an actual line I actually once said. Out loud. To my partner. When he was inside me. Why? Because he had just closed a deal at work, so that felt like a good thing to say in the moment. What ensued was the kind of sex I imagine inspires romance novels. But after we were finished, we burst out laughing as we repeated my bold outcry in different accents.

Outside the bedroom (or kitchen counter, or really wherever the urge strikes), even the hottest dirty talk phrases can come across as naughty and awkward in the best of scenarios, and filthy and degrading in the worst. And yet, in the heat of the sexual moment, dirty talk can be arousing for many—that is, if you know what dirty things to say during sex to get you and your partner going (more on that below).

Experts In This Article

Indeed, research has shown that those who communicate pleasure during sex are more likely to experience sexual satisfaction than those who do not communicate. For some, dirty talk can be a tool to simulate certain sexual fantasies or role-play and learn how to orgasm fast; for others, it can be a means of re-gendering (or un-gendering) certain body parts in order to access pleasure despite gender dysphoria.

Below, learn what makes dirty talk such a powerful erotic tool—plus, get tips from sex experts on exactly how to talk dirty during sex even if you’re shy or worried about feeling awkward or uncomfortable.

Why dirty talk can be such a turn-on

Talking dirty introduces an additional sense (hearing) to any sexcapade, which stimulates the brain in a way that goes beyond just touch. “Dirty talk makes the sexual interaction a mind and body experience,” says sexologist Megan Stubbs, EdD.

There's some pretty hefty neuroscience behind how and why this transpires, but the simple version is that the brain is our most powerful sexual organ and our most receptive erogenous zone, says Stuart Nugent, brand manager at luxury sex-toy company Lelo. And by speaking our sexual thoughts and fantasies aloud, we can engage the brain more deeply in the sexual act, making it that much more pleasurable.

Dirty talk phrases can also help you bring your fantasies to life and invite your partner into them. “Sharing our desires can help strengthen intimate bonds and trust,” says Nugent. "We say things in dirty talk that would be wholly inappropriate in other social situations. If you were asked if you wanted gravy at dinner, it would be out of the ordinary to reply, ‘I want it harder, deeper, faster.’” But in a sexual context, you might ask for exactly that—and it might feel like a huge turn-on. Basically, there’s a level of ease involved when we sense the freedom to speak things aloud that we’ve been taught to suppress.

While the language itself and bluntness with which it's delivered is what makes dirty talk arousing to many, it can still certainly make others feel awkward or uncomfortable, either to speak it or hear it. (Much like any other sexual act, dirty talk should only be used in scenarios where you know the person on the other end will be comfortable receiving it—and if they communicate otherwise, cut the dialogue short.)

If you’re the one who feels awkward or cringes at the idea of talking dirty yourself, but you find it hot when others do it, know that learning some tips for exactly how to talk dirty can help. “That discomfort may just be a reflection of the fact that you lack experience saying things aloud, without a filter, or intentionally to titillate a partner,” says LGBTQ+ expert and counselor Kryss Shane, LMSW.

5 main types of dirty talk

To get comfortable with dirty talk and also come up with different dirty things to say during sex, it’s helpful to consider the broad categories of sex talk, says sex and relationship educator Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, PhD (who goes by Dr. Tara), professor of relational and sexual communication at California State University Fullerton and host of the Luvbites by Dr. Tara podcast. Here, she outlines the five main types:

1. Compliments

Giving a compliment to a partner is a great entry point to dirty talk, says Dr. Tara. You may already say things like, “Your hair looks great today” or “You look hot” to a sexual partner, so it’s not too far of a leap to elaborate, well, a bit further. To dirty talk with compliments, you could try something like, “I love the way you feel inside me.”

2. Memories

This category of dirty talk involves referencing past sexcapades as a way to build anticipation and arousal. To do so, you could say something like, “Remember when you bent me over the couch the other week? I was dripping wet.” Dr. Tara particularly recommends this method as a means of sexting, too.

3. Narrate

Dr. Tara says one accessible way to talk dirty is to simply describe (exactly) what’s happening as you’re having sex. This can be really erotic and doesn’t require you to quickly recall phrases or scenarios.

4. Direct

This type of dirty talk entails stepping into your own mini movie and directing the action, aka telling someone else or yourself exactly what to do. “Directing can sound like, ‘Take your pants off,’ or ‘Turn around and turn over,’” says Dr. Tara. And in this context, the commands can come across as an arousing kind of dominance.

5. Ask questions

This type of dirty talk is just asking questions that encourage a partner to dirty talk back to you, whether by narrating their experience, offering a compliment, or relaying directions in response. For example, you might ask, ‘Do you like how I feel?’ or ‘What would you do if I stroked you like this?’” And see how your partner’s response might turn up the heat.

How do you talk dirty even if you’re shy?

Know that you don’t have to dive right into graphic dirty talk if it feels awkward or odd—in fact, dirty talk doesn’t even have to be that dirty to be effective. Dr. Tara breaks it into three different intensity levels, from beginner to advanced. “The first level is like, ‘I like the way you feel inside me,’ which is a beginner phrase; the second and intermediate level would be, ‘Your cock feels so good inside me,’ and advanced would be, ‘Your cock is throbbing, and my pussy feels so good,’” she explains.

You can switch between intensities and work up to that more explicit phrasing, or you can keep things more general; whatever fits your idea of sexy and feels right coming out of your mouth counts. “Dirty talk is categorized as [any] communication during sex that enhances sexual pleasure,” adds Dr. Tara.

One way to build confidence with sex talk is to start dirty talking to yourself. Dr. Tara has her clients create a positive sexual mantra, and then say it to themselves each day. “[The affirmation] could be a compliment about some part of your sexuality, whether it’s a part of your body, your sexual energy, or how you are as a lover,” she explains. Need some ideas? Consider something like, “I’m a generous lover,” or “My body is strong and sexy,” or “I know how to make myself feel good.” Feeling comfortable saying these things to yourself will make it feel more natural saying them to a partner, adds Dr. Tara.

How do you talk dirty without being cringey?

The key to dirty talking without being cringey is to be yourself, says John Eros, audio erotica creator for ethical porn company Sssh.com. “If something doesn't feel natural to you, it won't sound right when you say it and it will come across as forced,” he says.

To that end, feel free to experiment, but don’t adopt dirty talk phrases that are so far from the norm of how you sound or speak that you feel strange delivering them. And if you’re having partnered sex, don’t use words or phrases that feel unnatural to you just because you think it’s what your partner will like.

If you find dirty talk cringey because of how blunt or matter-of-fact it can be, Eros recommends focusing less on what you’re saying and more on why you’re saying it. You’re communicating to a partner that you desire them, or you want them to feel good, or you want them to make you feel a certain way—and the dirty words and phrases are just a means to achieving that end.

So, if saying, “I want to fingerf**k you” feels cringey, you might instead opt for a more narrative approach, like, “I want to hear you moan while your pussy clenches around my fingers.” Or, if you’d feel uncomfortable delivering this line, you can adjust it to something like, “I want to feel you clench around my fingers.” Essentially, you can work backward until you find something that sounds natural to you.

Overall, practice makes perfect when it comes to learning how to talk dirty during sex: The more you do it, the better you’ll learn what works for you, and the more confident you’ll feel about doing it. Below, find nine tips for leveling up your sex talk, including examples for talking dirty straight from sexperts.

Still feeling unsure about talking dirty during sex? Here are 9 tips to get started

1. Keep it simple

Dirty talk doesn’t have to be wildly elaborate—you can ease into things by saying exactly what's happening or what you want to happen. Dr. Stubbs advises starting sentences with phrases like, “I want,” or “I wish.” For example, “I want to feel your lips against my neck,” “I wish I could feel your cock inside me,” “I want you to strip for me,” or “Put my hand where you’re desperate for me to touch.”

Once that feels comfortable, you can craft phrases that are more elaborate, says sexologist Jill McDevitt, PhD. Think: “I love watching your tits/ass/thighs bouncing right now,” or “I like when your cock/clit/nipples are hard like this.”

2. Use flattery—but make it sexy

Flattery will get you… everywhere. Well, at least with folks who enjoy being verbally complimented during sex. Confirm when something feels good or that you’re into what's going on. (Think: “It feels so good when you suck my ear” and “I like it when you touch me there.”)

Dr. Stubbs suggests asking your partner how they like hearing their body described. For instance, do they like being told that they’re strong, tight, and sexy? Or smooth, juicy, soft, and warm? Or, really, any other adjectives?

Words of encouragement can also open the dirty talking door. “[Choose] little encouragements that are easy to incorporate and feel natural,” Eros suggests. For example, “You look so good rocking your hips like that.”

3. Get your inspiration from anywhere

Perfume commercials, music, movies, books, TV shows—you name it. If its narrative thread is H-O-T, take inspo from it. For instance, I recently stumbled across the line, “In the rain. In a squat. In an orgy. We meet again” in Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers, and later used a similar line with my partner.

One caveat: If you’re new to the dirty-talk scene, Dr. Stubbs cautions against taking your cues from porn (see: “f**k me like someone who closes deals”). “If you and your partner go from silent sex to you saying, ‘I want to be your cum dumpster,’ it might throw off your partner and take them out of the moment.”

4. Read erotica aloud to your partner

Dr. McDevitt says you can even read those extra-steamy scenes from your romance novels to your partner to ease into using naughty lingo. “It helps you get more comfortable with the language, and if something does feel awkward, you know the sentiment isn't coming from your imagination, so it's less of an emotional risk.”

The Best Women’s Erotica of the Year volumes, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, are a great place to start. You might also try listening with your partner to the storytelling erotica app Dipsea or any number of other audio erotica apps.

5. Engage the five senses

Love the way your partner tastes? Tell them. Do the sounds your partner makes arouse you? Whisper in their ear, “I love when you grunt for me.” Relying on all the senses can help provide inspiration to your dirty talk.

Dr. Stubbs also says telling your partner where you want to taste and smell them, and how you want to see them can be stimulating. For instance, imagine hearing “I want to taste the inside of your thigh.” Or “I want to memorize the way you smell.” Or “I want to see the way you look bent over that chair.”

6. Ask questions

This type of dirty talk is also a great way to incorporate consent into your dirty-talk lingo, says intimacy educator Stella Harris, author of Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication in Sex, Kink, and Relationships. Ask things like “Do you like that?” “How does that feel?” “Do you want some more?” ”Do you want me to use my mouth on you?”“Do you want me to X, Y or Z?"

7. Spread your dirty talk throughout the day

Incorporating dirty talk inconspicuously into your conversations with your partner hours before you’re planning on having sex can turn it into a form of foreplay and make sex feel like an event to look forward to that night. You might whisper something in your partner’s ear in the morning and then send risqué text messages as the day goes on; as the anticipation builds, you can get progressively more suggestive.

“Little signals or texts or messages can help ensure that by the time you're getting physical with someone, the dirty talk will just feel like a natural progression,” says Eros.

8. Practice over the phone

Eros says incorporating dirty talk into phone sex is one way to get more comfortable with it. Hop on the phone while you’re masturbating, and describe what’s happening to your partner through voice or text messages; go step by step, and outline exactly what you’re doing, how it feels, and how it looks. “You'll soon start to realize what kinds of words, phrases, or scenarios turn you on the most,” says Eros.

9. Laugh

Don’t worry about sounding silly. Ideally, sex is fun and fulfilling, and acknowledging phrasing that didn’t quite land or titillate as it was intended is one way to take some pressure off and keep things light. “It’s not only okay if there’s laughter during sex, it’s great," says Harris. "Sex should be playful. I encourage people to stop putting pressure on sex and dirty talk and just giggle."

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Babin, Elizabeth A. “An Examination of Predictors of Nonverbal and Verbal Communication of Pleasure during Sex and Sexual Satisfaction.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, vol. 30, no. 3, 2012, https://doi.org/10.1177/026540751245452.

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